Brian Hiatt
May 07, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

”Friends”’ ubiquitous theme song said they’d be there for us, and last night we reciprocated. 51 million fans turned out to watch the final episode of the beloved sitcom Thursday night, making it the fourth most viewed TV finale in history, according to the Associated Press. ”M*A*S*H” scored 105 million viewers in 1983, ”Cheers” had 80.4 million in 1993, and ”Seinfeld” drew in 76.2 million in 1998, AP reports.

The finale was also the most-watched entertainment program since the last installment of the first ”Survivor” season, which drew 51.7 million viewers in 2000, according to AP. 36 million viewers tuned into the hour-long clip show that preceded the finale, and ”The Tonight Show”’s interviews with the ”Friends” cast scored high ratings as well. Matt LeBlanc’s ”Joey” spin-off will take over ”Friends”’ Thursday slot in the fall, and NBC is surely hoping that some of its 51 million pals will come along for the ride.

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